The candidates, who are now in an ever-tightening race, will be all over the Hawkeye State. But the real intense maneuvering will take place behind the scenes. It is G.O.T.V. time – "Get Out The Vote" time!
At a John Kerry event Wednesday night, a Kerry aide asked people to please fill out a postcard before leaving. Essentially people were asked to address the card to themselves. Doing this gives the campaign two things: 1) a person's name and address that the campaign could recruit as a volunteer and/or donor; and 2) the card (once it's mailed back to the voter) becomes a reminder to the voter to get out to the local caucus come Monday night.
The Howard Dean camp adds a little twist to their "self-mailers.” They ask people to fill in a reason why they want to go to the caucuses for Dean. The idea is that when people see the reason they themselves wrote, they will be reminded of that moment when they committed to the Dean campaign and, therefore, they will be more likely to turn out and stay with Dean.
Any registered Democrat in Iowa could be excused if they refuse to answer their phone this weekend. The Iowa Democratic Party has sold six of the campaigns (Dean, Gerhard, Kerry, Edwards, Kucinich and Lieberman although he's not campaigning here) a complete list of every member of their party, complete with addresses and phone numbers. So with campaigns working off the same list, how do they find new voters?
At least one campaign is asking volunteers to bring in their lists for wedding invitations, holiday greeting card, and address books. This way they can work their personal contacts. The idea is that if people get calls from a phone bank, they may hang up. But if an Iowan gets a call from someone they know, they may stay on the line long enough to hear the campaign sales pitch.
Maybe the most experienced G.O.T.V. team belongs to Richard Gephardt. His labor endorsements translate into 95,000 potential backers here in Iowa. Organizing is a strong suit for unions, especially when it comes to political races. Right now laborers from Iowa plus a mix of out-of-state union members is pounding doors looking for more Gephardt support.
And remember, the Iowa caucuses are different from a primary or a general election. Democrats across the state have to be at their local precinct at 6:30 pm Central Time. No ifs, ands, or buts. Everything else in that voter’s life has to be put on hold. So what if there's snow, or if someone needs a ride, or needs their dog walked, or needs their children watched?
Chances are if the request is even somewhat reasonable, a campaign is ready to provide it. Snow removal, a lift, a dog-walker, a baby-sitter, or a hot pizza in all likelihood will be rushed to a Democrat's door because it is crunch time. It is time for the campaigns to do whatever it takes to win in Iowa. And for the campaign that gets out the vote best, it will likely be basking in the glow of victory Monday night.
— Steve Brown